In just a few days, 2010 will come to a close and a New Year will be upon us! For many people, this is a time of resolutions. And what could be more important than resolving to improve your heart health?
As you may know, heart disease is the number-one killer in the United States and throughout the world. So do what you can to protect your heart and ultimately your health.
Here are some New Year’s suggestions:
· Know your numbers. Schedule a checkup with your doctor, and find out what your blood pressure and cholesterol readings are. If they are at unhealthy levels, talk to your physician about lifestyle changes and medications that can help.
· Cut out the salt and fat. Watching what you eat is a key factor for a healthy heart. Excess sodium can raise your blood pressure, so shoot for no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. Saturated fats can harm your cardiovascular system, so steer clear of processed meat, butter, and dairy products made with whole milk. Trans fats, found in food made from hydrogenated oils, are also bad for your heart. Try to limit your consumption of cookies and cakes, French fries, onion rings, and other snack foods.
· Eat the good stuff. Treat your heart to fish a few times a week or take fish oil supplements. Also, try to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These fresh foods are beneficial to your heart and may even keep some cancers at bay.
· Get your heart pumping. Regular exercise is a critical component of cardiovascular health. Find ways to be active at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. If this seems like a lot, start slow and work your way up. Breaking a sweat can be fun, so try an upbeat workout video or listen to your iPod during your walk or run. You’ll help your heart and boost your mood.
· Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use has been linked to heart disease, as well as to lung cancer and other serious medical issues. If you smoke, do everything you can to stop. Your doctor may be able to recommend a tobacco-cessation program. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start!
· Limit alcohol. There may be times when a glass of wine or another drink seems appropriate, but don’t overdo it. Studies show that too much alcohol can lead to cardiovascular problems and other conditions. Women should stick to one drink a day or less, and men should have no more than two.
· Find ways to relax. Your life may be full of stressful issues, but find ways to manage them. Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and overwork your heart. Learn to meditate, go to a yoga class, take a long bath, or talk with friends. Be sure to find time each day to unwind a little. These moments will go a long way to keeping your heart in good shape.
The Chest Pain Center at North Hills Hospital can help you evaluate your heart health and treat you for any issues you may be having. To learn more, contact North Hills Hospital. Visit us online or call 817-255-1894. Serving Northeast Tarrant County, we’re here to answer all your questions.